Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Brownie Bandit

These will net you 5 to 10.
    Brownies are delicious.  No one would dispute that.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  There is probably someone out there who would dispute that; Bucko might just to play devil's advocate.  But most would not.  Jamon Simoneaux most certainly would not.  He was recently arrested in Gonzales, Louisiana for repeatedly breaking into a bakery and stealing baked goods.
     Yeah, not the money.  The brownies.  Oh, and some sugar cookies.  Lynn and Pat Jumonville (which one is the man and which the woman? I dare you to figure it out without using the Interweb...Lynn is the man and Pat is the woman; I am not guessing, I am telling you) estimate that Simoneaux took about 12 dozen brownies and about 2 dozen sugar cookies over the course of many weeks.  So now he is up on charges of simple burglary - six counts - and simple criminal damage to property - four counts.  Because he pulled his shenanigans multiple times.
      In the end it was the criminal damage to property that got him.  Simoneaux was breaking the window every time he felt the need to indulge his sweet tooth.  So around 8:30 or 9:00 pm he would stroll by and break his way in, and it was once the costs of the broken windows and screens mounting up that caused Mr. Jumonville to call the police.  That is what boggles my mind.  Simoneaux almost got away with it because he wasn't stealing any money.  One can infer that Jumonville didn't call police the first couple of times his bakery was broken into, probably because all the money was there and nothing seemed amiss except for the shattered glass, etc.  I mean, honestly, what is a dozen brownies on the 30 dozen that they probably have made for that day?  I would suspect that Jumonville didn't even notice the brownies were gone, until the started counting.  Or maybe until Simoneaux got caught, because he got caught red handed.  When police apprehended him inside the bakery, he had a bag of brownies in his hand.
     The sad thing is that Little Jamon Brownie Thief probably could have scored himself some free goods if he had just used his brain.  Let's be honest, the bakery isn't going to sell out 100% of its inventory every day, and unless they are selling day olds on the cheap, health laws are going to cause them to chuck a lot of their inventory every day.  That is just part of the cost of doing business.  If you don't want to dumpster dive he probably could have just hung out in back at the end of the day and they would have given him a dozen free here and there.  At least he wouldn't have caused all those broken windows.  But hey, what do I know.  Maybe his father was a glazier.  All I know is I sort of like this guy, and I sort of like the shop owners as well.  I just feel bad with how hard of a time he is going to have in jail.  "what you in for, boy "(notice no capitalization or punctuation because they are in jail and they are dangerous lawbreakers) "stealing baked goods."  Good luck with that Jamon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emmys Were On?

I think they stole this from the hood of a car.
     So the Emmys were on last night and I am struggling to find someone who actually watched them or who remotely cares about them.  I wouldn't have even known they were on had there not been a news article plastered somewhere within all the daily reading I do.  And even then I don't ever remember them, and I always get the Emmys, Oscars, and the Academy Awards mixed up.  I think that the Emmys are for television, and that the Oscars and the Academy Awards are the same thing and they are for film.  Either way I don't particularly care about either.  I find them to be the most useless, self-absorbed hunks of bullshit one can find, especially since they are always on TV and people are supposed to care.
    The reason that they are bullshit, along with all the music awards and whatnot, is because they are all over on TV.  I am not saying that these talented writers, actors, and musicians don't deserve praise and awards for their work, they absolutely and completely do.  Award the hell out of them for the things that they have accomplished.  Almost every profession has some sort of award system from their professional groups, from software designers to ice cream makers to police and fire officials.  But you don't see those award ceremonies being splashed all over the television for everyone to have to see, with giant production numbers and costing more than the GDP of most Second World countries.  Chemists probably have a room down at the Hyatt with a nice buffet and maybe a presentation by the head of the chemists' union on a laptop hooked up to the projector, then they get their awards and hang them up in their labs and go home at the end of the day.  They don't have giant spectacles on ABC or wherever.
     Hell, even the Nobel Prize, which is given out in a castle in Norway or something, only gets a couple of lines on page 16A of your friendly local Sunday newspaper, and those kids are doing wonderful and amazing things for humanity.  Not to say that the boys and girls in Hollywood aren't doing wonderful things, I just get a little bit perturbed at how they celebrate themselves so much.  Not even so much, but so publicly.  Uncool.  super uncool.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In the Eye of the Beholder

     Company, there is a certain something to be said for ignorance of the world around you.  A lot of times there are things going on out there that just aren't pleasant.  And sometimes it is a simple as other people not seeing things the same way as you.
     Take the case into point of a group of people who live along the shores of a certain lake in a certain town.  Now, let it be known that this is a nice little lake in a nice little town in the middle of bum fuck nowhere.  Small nice little town.  But small none the less.  Anyway, back to the lake.  As I said it is a nice little lake, clear water, good size , nice beach, easy to find but not necessarily easy to use public access, gravel bar crossing the middle to help improve fishing, all that good stuff.  A look around the lake will affirm that there is a mix of people who have money and people who are the ancestors of those who did.  All in all a nice place.  There is, however, a certain pervasive belief among those who live on that particular lake that it is a premium address, or to be more precise that only certain parts of the lake are premium addresses that allow the residents a certain extra degree of prestige that other parts of the lake and community just don't afford.
     Prestige Worldwide.  That is what the are assuming is bestowed upon them by virtue of how they get to their homes.  Hmmm...not quite.  Not quite at all.  See the funny thing about that is that the only people who think that living on that lake is something special are the people who live on that lake.  Yeah, that is what I am talking about.  Bury your head in the gravel bar and don't bother to realize that you aren't anything special to the rest of the world.
     How do I know that?  Well, I know people in that area, people who have lived there for years and years and years, and quite frankly, I have never once heard a single person remark about how special that particular lake is.  Nor how special a particular part of it is.  See, the reason being that no matter what part I piss in I have still pissed in the lake, am I right?  It's all going to mix in there together.  My pee will inevitably wash onto your self-hallowed shore and wash all over your body, boat, dock, and lawn once you stick a hose and pump in there to keep it green.  That's the thing.  It is all in your head.
     And so it goes.  Those people are special in their own minds, which is the worst kind of special.  But for them, probably comfort and pride, and they have managed to delude themselves and shut out the unpleasant fact that are whizzing by on the highway, all the people who see no value beyond the value of lakefront homes for all those prestigious palaces perched on the waterfront.  It really does shake out where everything is really in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taxation Without Something

     Morons.  This world is filled with them.  Some people say that I am a moron because the first two things I do once I get into my hotel room in my new town are turn on The Weather Channel to see what communities show up on their Local Forecast, and then I read the informational community pages in the front of the telephone book.  Yeah, I know, makes me seem like a waterhead but both are great means of getting yourself familiar with there things are relative to where you happen to be standing, and those community pages show you all sorts of stuff about parks, laws, police, etc.  It sounds lame-o but it's called getting familiar with your surroudings.  I do it when I go to a new town, most people don't.  And that's okay.  But I would damn sure do it when I moved to a new country.
     So would you, so would everyone else, right Company?  Not true.  Apparently 20-something year-old immigrant from Spain Marcos Esparza Bofill never thought to do that when he moved to New York City to try his hand at day trading.  He just showed up, got an apartment, and went to town at the NYSE or wherever.  He never bothered, when moving to a country specifically to get rich or to make money working with money and stocks, to investigate the tax laws and rules governing financial transactions in that country, so he never knew how to correctly report his income taxes, and he didn't even know who the Internal Revenue Service was.
     Needless to say then, that he was surprised when they slapped him with a tax bill of $172 million, a tax bill that raised a lot of eyebrows and caught a lot of attention when it was leaked to thesmokinggun.com.  They claim that he made over $500 million a year while he was here and they wanted their piece of it.  Strange thing is that while all this was going on, Marcos had moved back to Spain because he lost money while he was here and couldn't afford his rent.  So what is going on here?
     What is exactly going on here?  The IRS claims Marcos made $500 million.  Marcos claims he lost money.  That's a pretty big mixup.  That's a pretty big difference.  That's a pretty big WTF.  Well here is the deal: the IRS is like a lot of entities, they only know what they are told.  So the markets or brokerage houses or whomever Marcos was buying and selling stocks with, reported to the IRS that he had sold $500 million worth of stock over however long a period.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Well, Marcos never bothered to tell the IRS that he has also bought a significant monetary amount of stock during that same time.  Since the IRS knew he made all that money, and no one told them he lost that plus some more, they assumed it was all profit.  And so they taxed him accordingly, which was $172 million.  (We don't have exact numbers, but that comes out to be approximately a 34.4% tax rate by the way)  It makes sense to me.
     But it doesn't make sense to Marco, since he isn't from here and he never bothered to find out what was going on.  I suppose he could have gotten some bad financial advice.  But the bottom line is that he is now in deep shit, and he owes more to Uncle Sam than I will ever make in my lifetime.  It really goes a long way towards showing the power of paperwork, because all he has to do is refile and declare his losses and this will all go away.  And it really goes a long way towards showing that you have to pay attention to what is going on around you, and make sure you know what you are doing.
     What it should not do is make everyone mad at the IRS.  I understand that they are an easy scapegoat, and more people are going to feel hostile towards an entity that is in existence solely to take away their hard earned money.  I understand that.  But the IRS in this case is 100% completely and totally in the right.  And not even in one of those ways where they are right by the book but morally and ethically taking things a little bit too seriously, like when they send a letter demanding 38¢ from an 8 year-old because he sold a pack of baseball cards at his parents rummage for a couple of crisp new dollar bills.  Nope, in this case 100% of the blame falls on Marcos and nowhere else.  He has to tell them what he is doing if he is day trading.
     So get ready Marcos, you have three options.  1.) Sharpen your pencils and fill out the forms to get your ass out of trouble, 2.) fork over $172 million to the IRS, which doesn't worry me because I have a feeling your family over in Spain is pretty rich, although I can almost guarantee not $172 million lying around rich), or 3.) live on in Spain or some other exotic locale and not pay a cent and pray to God every night that they don't storm in and extradite your bitch ass.  There you go.  Pick one and roll with it.  Oh, but make sure you itemize all of your earnings and expenses as you being your dealings with the IRS.  Because I have a feeling that you are going to have a uniquely American experience: the IRS Audit.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Huh? Now What?

    Sometimes it is worth noting, as we make our way along through our lives just how important an issue perspective can be.  Because no two people will ever have the same one; no two of us think alike, talk alike, analyze things alike, or have had the same set of experiences.  I suppose, if you put a million people in a million different universes, it is bound to happen, just like the monkeys with typewriters thing, but we can’t really say with certainty whether there are those millions of people in millions of universes or not floating around out there, so we have to stick with what we know.  And what we know is that the modern equivalent to monkeys with typewriters – unpaid interns with an early version of Microsoft Word – will still always put our crap.  No Shakespeare here.
     Wait, what?  Where was I?  Oh yeah, perspective.  It’s important.  It is the origin of “walk a mile in my shoes” because like I said we all come at things from different angles, like ninjas.  Which are cool, although I always wondered about their dress.  I mean, I understand the black part, because ninjas are nocturnal and they always operate at night, or do they operate at night because they have to wear black.  Like, was black the cheapest color ninja suit they could get, and that’s why they have them?  The dojo isn’t made out of yen you know.  I bet black is symbolic for something – perhaps super silent kung-fu ninja death.  I mean, black is the color of funerals so I suppose that makes sense.
This where you would look up "melty."
     Sorry, that was a tangent.  That's not on you, Company.  Anyway, back to perspective.  As I was saying, it is important in life because not only do we all come from different places but we all have different experiences and whatnot.  Like, for instance, I have gone to the fair a time or two, whereas there are lots of people who have never been to the fair before EVER!  Could you imagine that one?  Never having ridden the tilt-a-whirl, seen a dirty carny making out with a fat chick behind the Zipper while kids barf up their corn dogs.  Speaking of which, lots of people go to the friendly local fair for the corn dogs, and I am not sure what is all about that.  I have eaten more than my fair share of corn dogs in my day, as you would be able to tell if I posted my picture, but I was unable to discern what was so great about the corn dogs at the fair.  The cheese curds, however, were phenomenal.  I spent a lot of years in my life living in the state that is known for cheese, and have ingested a whole lot of it in the curd variety, and these were the best things in the history of dairy products. First of all, they were breaded and deep fried, and they were so fresh out of the fryer that they were still melty on the inside.  Is melty a word?  It is now.  Because that is what they were.  Add a little marinara and some ranch (not mixed together, that would be gross) and it was heaven in a little paper basket.  Man, this is making me hungry.  What was I talking about again?
     Oh right, the perspective and its importance.  You know what else is important?  Air.  Air is one of those things that is super important but is always taken for granted.  It is one of those things that you don't really think about or appreciate until it is gone, and by then it is too late because you are dead without air.  Whether you are buried under the ground or in water or beer or a nitrogen vacuum, it is not air and you will die.  And it will be gruesome and painful and you will remember every minute of it.  So appreciate your air while you have it, asshole.
     Did I just call you an asshole, Company?  Sorry about that.  I can't seem to remember what I was talking about.  I seem to have a little touch of the ADD this morning.  Or evening.  Or whatever it is.  I am not really sure anymore.  Is that something shiny?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shot to the Head

     Have you ever been shot in the head, Company?  Me neither.  I have claimed from time to time that I wished I could be shot in the face in lieu of whatever else I was doing at the time, but that was always an excessive exaggeration meant to display just how much I hated whatever was going on around me, or which I was a part of.  I don't really want to be shot in the face, or any other part of the head.  Although, under the right circumstances it might not be so bad.  It wasn't for Robert Chojecki.
      See, Robbie recently went to the doctor, which I desperately want to spell "doktor" because he lives in Germany, and found out something that he didn't know.  As it turns out, Robbie is 35 years old, and for the last four (4) of those years he has been walking around with a .22 slug in his head.
     Yep, that's right.  He figures he received the wound on New Years' Eve five years ago in the town of Herne in Germany (Don't ask about the discrepancy in the year thing, okay?  I am just quoting from the article that I read, I am a jackass blogger not some sort of University math professor) while piss drunk.  He figures that he thought he was hit with a firework.  Hmmm...that's fucking retarded.  He knew, apparently that there was a bump in his head where God and Mother Nature never intended a bump to be, but he never really thought anything of it until the headaches started.  And since John Redcorn wasn't around to treat them, he went to see Herr Doktor.
     So, here is the deal.  I read this and a whole bunch of funny puns and one liners came to mind.  And seeing as how Mr. Chojecki is Polish, let's start with this one:

How long does it take a Polock to realize that he has been shot in the head?  Five years.

      Hold on, I have more.  Try this one on for size:

How drunk do you have to be to get shot in the head and not realize it?  New Years in Herne drunk.

     Now some more:

What does it take to forget you've been shot in the head? .22

He's got such a thick head a .22 won't even hurt it.  It's been proven by science.

This New Year is off like a shot. (That would have been more appropriate had he actually discovered in at the time it happened.)

     All of this leads me to this question, too:

If you shoot Robert Chojecki in the head, will he remember before the statute of limitation runs out?

     I am not sure.  But that brain slug (literally! HA!) must have knocked something loose.  I think that all the blood (there had to have been blood) and the giant bump and everything else would have had me in asking questions.  For certain I wouldn't have waited a year once the headaches started.  But whatever.  I am only park Polack.  And I have never been shot with a .22, thankfully.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Idling Hands Do the Devil's Work

     China is and has always been a sort of land of extremes, especially for those of us in the West.  We think of all the exotic scenes: pagodas, gleaming cities, the Great Wall.  All that jazz.  But what a lot of us don't realize, or at least what many of us are quickly learning, is that China is a fully functioning nation, and that it is growing at a rate that would make your eyes explode.  And with that comes the inevitable growing pains, which in this case the growing pain we are talking about is constipation, at least of the road system.  I suppose you would call it congestion if you were more appropriate, but no matter how you want to describe this phenomenon, what it is is a now ten-day old traffic jam.
      Yep, it's been going on for ten days now.  That's a long time.  A long, long time.  Imagine being the first car to have been in that traffic jam, like the fist car at the very beginning ten days ago who had to stop on the highway for some reason, but then got through after like fifteen minutes or something.  Whew!  Lucky on that one.  But as for the other, schmucks, well, we will get to them in a minute.  Let's take a look at some of the pertinent facts, shall we?
       First of all, the traffic jam really is in its tenth day, and it is stretching for about 60 miles.  Imagine a traffic jam going from Cincinnati to Dayton.  Think about it.  At one point, some of the cars in the traffic jam were moving approximately a half mile a day.  A half mile a day.  That's fucking nuts. It stretched across parts of two provinces on one of the busiest highways into Beijing, which used to be called Peking for those of you using old maps with a different translation.  They say that it is being caused by a heavier than normal amount of truck traffic coupled with construction that started a few days before the traffic jam, and which won't be done for another couple of months.
      Well at least the construction is moving along quickly.  So what about all those poor saps who are stuck in this mess?  What are they doing.  Well, they are sleeping and wandering around, and some are playing chess or cards with other stranded motorists.  But they are playing nice at least, as there have been no reports of any sort of road rage violence, although I would suppose that there are not a whole lot of lane changes taking place.  The unfortunates, however, were complaining about price gouging on the costs of food, water, and other necessities.
    That's right, people need to eat, Company, even when they are trapped for days and days in their cars.  And so the friendly local villagers, hip to the ways of capitalism even after decades under communism, are taking advantage by selling things like box lunches, packs of noodles, and bottles of water for highly inflated prices.  For instance, a bottle of water is running roughly ten times what they normally do, and cups of noodles three times their norm.  No word yet on where people are going their business while stuck in this mess, but I wouldn't be surprised if the locals were finding a way to charge them for this too. I am sort of half expecting the People's Army to come marching in there with food and water, because that seems to be a normal response to things like this in China.  After all, the army is a massive tool able to get just about anything done without questions and in record quick fashion.
     There has been some response by authorities in the stricken areas, but they have so far been much more Westernized responses.  But they have supposedly been working, so that's good.  Authorities have begun to let more of the heavy, slow, goods-laden trucks into the capital than normal in an effort to get this flowing, because the trucks, and the fact that there are 40% more of them plying this highway every year, are a big part of the problem here.  They are also asking - I suspect more telling but whatever - trucking companies to temporarily suspend operations until things clear up, and they are advising motorists to use alternate routes.
     Well no shit.  I mean, China is, like we said, rapidly developing, and they didn't have a heavy car culture until not too long ago, so maybe I can understand that they aren't familiar with this concept, and I am certainly not familiar with the intricacies of the Chinese transportation system, but why the fuck would you try to drive down a road that has had a gridlock traffic jam for TEN FUCKING DAYS?  That is just moronic.  If there is no other way that you could ever possibly go that would take less than ten days, then sure.  Maybe that would work.  Or maybe if you had some sort of papers from the government telling you you had to take that way or else, then sure.  Or maybe if an armed bandit was holding a gun to your temple and insisted you take the 405, then sure.  But otherwise?  No.  A savvy driver would be on the surface streets laughing their ass off at the people who were too dumb to know to take anything but the motorway or whatever the Chinese call their freeways.
     So there you have it.  Thousands upon thousands of poor souls sit, trapped with idling motors and rising blood pressure on a hot, tepid slice of asphalt somewhere in the middle of Asia because of road construction and trucks, two absolutely essential elements to a strong modern economy, but nonetheless the bain of everyone's existence who drives a car.  Sort of takes a lot of the mystery out of China, if not the exoticism.  Because a ten-day long traffic jam is still pretty exotic when you start to think about it.  Unless of course you are in it.  Then is just sucks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Can I Help You Find Something?

The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     You are a sales clerk, Company.  Did you know that?  I didn't either, but that is the what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.  It is not a good job, we all know that, because customers are assholes and bosses are retards and you have to stand around all day long.  if you have never worked in the sales business, or should I say the sales clerk business, I would not recommend it.  Go work at Home Depot or the friendly local car dealer or at K-Mart or something and you will see.  In fact, 4.2 million of you have already seen.  Sales clerk is the most listed job in America these days, followed by its bastard customers cashiers and office clerks.  They are all cut from the same cloth and they all involve the same dangers, etc.
Just think of it as a penis, okay?
     I think that the thing that stands out to me the most when I see these statistics laid out in front of me is how fundamentally the nature of the American workplace and collar has changed.  There was a time when factory worker would have topped this list religiously, but somewhere along the way we just moved into buying shit and serving one another and shuffling papers instead of actually making something useful.  Now all we manufacture are those perverted shake weight things that you see on the late night infomercials that girls are supposed to use to shape up their arms but which in reality just make them look like they are doing dirty things to penises. 
     So that is it, then?  We have been reduced to 4.2 million people who stand around helping you find the laundry detergent, 3.4 million who will take your money once you've picked out your laundry detergent, and another 2.8 million who will file the invoices for the next shipment of laundry detergent to fill the shelves.  Fantastic.  And most of us are hating it while we are doing it.  How fantastic.
     Well, Company, I hate to end our look at your favorite and most popular things as figured out by Business Week Magazine to such a depressing end by talking about your shitty job, just sometimes that is just how it has to be.  I hope you have enjoyed it and you can find the entire Popularity Issue by clicking here.  That is the most popular link in this blog post.  See?  I have added my contribution.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Popularity Issue: On the Wings of Love

The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     Have you ever noticed, Company, that when you see airplanes at the airport - and I don't mean big jets, I mean that little ones that normal-ish folks fly around at slow speed - they always look the same?  Well that is because there isn't a lot of change in the basic design of a single engine plane, but it also disguises the fact that most of them are pretty old, at least by everyday standards.  Planes that hearken back to the 70s and 80s are the norm on the grass strips and friendly local small airports of America.  Kind of shocking, isn't it?  Well, it shouldn't be, because if you think about it, planes are expansive so why would there be a lot of people buying them as if they were cars.
$400,000 worth of interior decorating
    In fact, in 2008 Cirrus SR22, which the average Tom, Dick, or harry wouldn't be able to tell from any other plane, only sold about 400 units, which sounds bad but it was twice as much as its nearest competitor, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.  Wanna hear something cool?  This plane includes a parachute system in its tail in case your engine fails.  Pretty sweet, hey?  And why shouldn't it come with that?  The most basic model - 26 ft long with a 38-ish foot wingspan, with a maximum altitude of 17,500 ft, and a 310 hp engine, will set you back roughly $400,000, which is more than a house in most places.  Or at least more than any house I will ever live in.  That's even more than I make for doing the Big Dave and Company Podcast.  I hope those built-in parachutes can double as comfortable hammocks because I am going to have to live in the damn thing with that kind of price.  I can't even begin to imagine the $700,000 version.
     So I guess that the idea here is that if you want to be riding the wave of small airplane popularity, search through all your couch cushions - even the ones on the love seat - ditch your ratty old Beechcraft and get yourself a SR22.  It's what all the cool kids are doing these days.  That and getting knee replacement.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Popularity Issue: You Reek

The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most. So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

The Secret is out for this guy.
     We talked about shrimp yesterday, Company, and how they are apparently now fish.  And fish smell, well, fishy.  But you know what other type of animal smells bad?  Human beings.  Oh yeah, we reek, especially when it is hot or we are working out or something.  I, personally, reek just about all the time.  Back in the days of yore, like in castle times, they would go ahead and take baths, if you were rich, maybe once a week or so.  That is how you would combat smell.  Once people began to bathe more regularly, like in the 17th and 18th Centiuries, the rich needed a new and innovative way to be better than the rest of us, so they developed perfume and cologne and all the good smelling things to cover up our offensive odors.  Great.  Obviously that worked well because we use them today, but it was inevitable that technology would create something new and better.
    That was, of course, deoderant, which combats odor at the source and which can be sprayed or sort of rubbed on there.  And it is great.  They make deoderant, which covers the smell, anti-persperant which supposedly stops you from sweating, and combinations which make you smell good and be dry at the same time.  Fantastic!  So what is all that about?  Why the big deal about fucking deoderant?  I can hear you asking these pertinent questions, Company.  And they are good questions.  They are important today because the Popularity Issue tells us that the most popular, i.e. best selling, deoderant is Secret.
     Yeah, you know "Strong enough for a man, made for a woman" or one of the many, many versions of the slogan that they used since 1973 when they started making the stuff.  I remember it as "strong enough for a man, pH balanced for a woman" which is similar.  Anyway, I digress.  The reason this is important, and that the runners up are, in order, Axe, Old Spice, Degree, and Dove.  What does this tell us?  That is the question we are asking today.
     First of all, it tells us that there are more versions of deoderant sort of geared towards men, as they take up three of the four spots.  Dove and Secret are for the chicks, and that is only two spots.  I tried to figure out if this told us that girls wear more deoderant than boys, or vice versa, but I couldn't make it work in a way that made sense for either side.  So I am going to skip it and move on.
     I am going to move on to sex, not having it so much as using it to sell things, at least to guys.  Because, see, Axe commercials are filled with smoking hot chicks and relatively good looking guys, and all their ads basically in a very television-appropriate-but-cool-man-sort-of-way saying that you will get tons of pussy if you spray yourself with their stuff.  Old Spice uses somewhat of the same formula but focuses a little more on the cool-man way of saying things and less on the implying-you-will-get-laid strategy.  I have never seen anything that has made me remotely horny in a Degree commercial, except for during that short phase when I found gel deoderant extrememly attractive.  Wait, what?  Who said that?
     So anyway, we know that sex sells at least when we are talking about boys, and we know that men and women have their own deoderants.  We also know that there are more boy deoderants than girl deoderants.  We also have found that I cannot consistently call them men and women or boys and girls or males and females.  And we can also infer that we don't wear enough deoderant as a people because there are roughly $300 million of us floating around in America, and we sold only about 582 million units.  So that is like two per person per year...that's fucking nutso.  Now, I know that there are a lot of kids and elderly floating around who don't wear the stuff, but still?  Two containers per year for each person?  That doesn't sound like enough because I know we smell way worse than that.
     But I digress, so congratulations to the Proctor & Gamble folks on your high honor.  You are the most popular at making us reek less than we normally do.  I hope you enjoy your award and good luck next year.  I know that you won't sweat it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Something Fishy

Fish Cocktail
The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     Really?  Are you fucking kidding me?  I work for the government, so I tend to sort of understand the madness (because I am familiar with it and I am surrounded by it all the time) and even defend it, at least when I am on the clock, but in what might be one of the best examples of how fucking stupid the government is, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies shrimp as a fish.  Even jumbo shrimp, the most famous oxymoron around.  I am sure that some white shirt bureaucrat did this in a little cubicle somewhere deep inside the district of Columbia because he didn't know how else to classify shrimp, but still.  Scratch that, I bet there were months and months worth of super expensive and even more boring committee meetings and work groups and listening sessions in small town halls in coastal towns across America before that bureaucrat just threw in the towel and said "Fuck it!"
      So anyway, the FDA says shrimp goes with fish and as such it is the most popular fish on our plates.  Try and wrap your head around that one, Company.  Despite the fact that everyone in a suit on TV has been telling us that everyone who makes their living off the harvesting of shrimp down in Louisiana was living the hardest life in the history of existence long before BP literally erupted on the scene, and that now they are going to die starving on their shrimp boats as their prey dies in the oil, there still must be a glimmer of hope for all the Billy Bobs and all the Delacroix's running around St. Whatever Parish, because Americans are eating shrimp at a level never seen before.  Or maybe not.  Let's look at the facts.
     4.1 pounds.  If you are an average American that is how many pounds of shrimp you are going to eat in the course of a year, up threefold from the level at which you were pigging out in 1980.  So one would think that things are looking up, now wouldn't they?  In fact, the shrimp has held the number one spot for ten-ish years, which shouldn't really be surprising because anything that is routinely combined with the work "cocktail" is bound to become super popular.  It is beating canned tuna - which is mostly eaten by the conscious and the cats - by 50%.  Now that is impressive since tuna costs like 16¢ a can.  But I digress.
     Maybe I have problems and disbelief about this because I personally don't like shrimp, neither the taste or texture.  Or maybe it is because I am pro tuna.  Or maybe it is because I am from the Midwest and all we eat here are fish fry fish like haddock and cod and the occasional whitefish, maybe it is because SHRIMP IS NOT A FUCKING FISH.  Who knows.  All I know is that add a little cocktail sauce to a gross looking thing from the sea and suddenly you have a decade-long industry leader.  Congratulations to the shrimp.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Knee Jerk Reaction

Replacement Knee Surgery
     The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     We have given this week's special promotion the title "The Popularity Issue" because we are talking about the things that are the most popular.  Makes sense, right?  Except that we aren't necessarily always talking about the most popular things.  Sometimes we are just talking about the things that we are having done the most.  Like knee replacement surgery.  I am not sure that anyone in their right mind is signing up for knee replacement operations just because all their friends are or something, but apparently there are two things that are leading us in droves to our friendly local orthopedists.
     First of all, we are getting fatter.  I am getting fatter right now as we speak.  I can actually hear it.  And for all the skinny minnies out there wandering around, and girls in their skinny jeans that you just sort of want to force feed a cheeseburger to, we are, as a nation, getting fatter.  But we are apparently getting more active at the same time, which seems counter intuitive.  I am not sure why buy we appear to be playing more sports - or since we are grossly overweight all of the sudden a shameful and shambolic form of the sports we love - and we are ripping the innards out of our knees at an alarming rate.
      Or at least that is what Business Week postulates.  I think that it is because we see our favorite famous athletes tearing their ACL, MCL, MRE, MCI, and just about every other three-letter combination.  Oh and their patellar tendons too, don't forget those.  Anyway, we are watching football and baseball players tearing their joints to bits and we want to be just like them.  So out we go, in our brand new Cincinnati Bengals Terrell Owens jerseys at the friendly local park and then WHAM-O! we are in the hospital in one of those strange traction things where our legs are up in the air.
     So anyway, 750,000 or so of us every year trundle into the doctor's office and stick our HMO for the cost of a total knee replacement, almost two to one over total or partial hip replacements.  I would expect that to change as the Baby Boomers come of age.  Which might be good because the average knee replacement, the most popular of all orthopedic surgeries in America, costs $58,000.  And we wonder why our insurance premiums are going up and up and up.
    So what do we do, Company?  How do we combat this and make it so hip replacements or elbowectomies are the most popular of the replacement surgeries, like God and nature intended?  Well, the first thing we can do is lose weight, which is all well and good except that everyone is perpetually on a diet and nothing is getting done.  It's like we are all city workers digging a hole.  So maybe we should just sit around more - not play so many sports, not be such weekend warriors all the damn time.  That works, except it will inevitably lead us into the more fat part.  But hey, that is what Rascal scooters are for, now isn't it?  Maybe we should just all ride those things around.  We can have Rascal scooter basketball and football games down at the park.  Then we'd all be having neck replacements and whiplash operations, but at least the knee replacement wouldn't be number one anymore.  That's got to count for something, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Even Nuttier Still

The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most. So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     Yesterday, to kick off our special promotion, we talked about bananas, and how they are the number one selling item in Wal-Mart stores.  Pretty cool if you are a banana, isn't it?  Well, we here at Big Dave and Company got to thinking that one of the classic flavors that goes great with bananas is peanut butter, and thankfully the folks at Business Week looked into the peanut butter issue as well.
      We all have our favorite brands of peanut butter, don't we Company?  Because every brand of peanut butter tastes a little different from one another.  Jif is more nutty.  Skippy is sweeter.  Crunchy.  Creamy.  So on and so forth.  It is the same deal with ketchup.  Not only do they all not taste the same, but they all spell themselves differently too.  Ketchup, catsup, God knows what else.  But I digress.  We are talking about peanut butter here folks, and number one on the Business Week list is Jif.
     Choosy moms choose Jif, according to their advertising campaigns, and apparently we are all choosy moms who spent $317 million on Jif last year.  And that includes all the versions, from Extra Crunchy to that Jif to Go shit, a figure which is up 3% from the year prior.
    What does all this mean?  I don't know.  For one, it means that Jif advertises more than any other peanut butter brand in the history of the world, at least on TV, and truthfully, is there any other kind of advertising that counts?  I would also suspect that Jif has more varieties of peanut butter than all the other varieties too, so all that special low-fat low-everything Jif is being counted in there.  I would also suspect, like I sort of noted up above, that there are just a lot of people who are brand loyal when it comes to peanut butter
      So I don't know, I just don't know Company.  There is something about Jif that people just sort of like, and they buy it and buy it and buy it.  And now it is the most fantastical brand in all of America.  So congratulations, Jif.  If there were a peanut butter award you would get it.  I wonder how a Big Dave and Company Peanut Butter would go over?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Going Bananas

     The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     As you may have already figured out, Company, there is one corporation, one company as it is (that counts as a sort of a pun, right?) that sells more merchandise that any other company in America or the world for that matter.  That is, of course, Wal-Mart.  They are the largest retailer, and despite the widespread opposition to their business practices and their creative use of economies of scale, everybody shops there ($405 billion in sales last year - that's a lot of Fruit Roll-ups) and so they are a good barometer of the national shopping mood.  What they have told the good folks at Business Week is that they sell more bananas than anything else.
     That's right, bananas.  And why not?  The first thought that popped into my head was that the banana was a strange thing to see on the top of this list.  Bananas, really?  We really buy more bananas than loaves of bread or rolls of aluminium foil or packages of toilet paper?  For real?  Bananas? 
      Yes, bananas.  After about 16/100ths of a second of lucid thought I realized that maybe bananas were not such a crazy thing to be heading our list.  First of all, Mike-a-licious loves bananas, so he buys a lot, and everyone knows that he is a pied piper of the masses, so of course they are buying a lot of bananas.  Second of all, bananas are an extremely versatile fruit - being used with a combination of other flavors especially in desserts.  Think about it, you can have them with ice cream, in baked goods, caramelized, etc, because they have a good flavor but it's not overpowering and it plays well with others.  There is, however, one major reason I feel that bananas are the single best selling thing at Wally World for the last year: bananas sell in bunches.
     When was the last time that you walked into a grocery store and bought a single banana?  I know that I have done it at the gas station as a snack while driving the car, but those are packaged for individual sale.  Well, all bananas are really in their own little special package for individual sale but you know what I mean.  At the grocery store, which in this case Wal-Mart is acting like a grocery store, they aren't really set up for individual sale.  They are usually priced by the pound, so you could buy a single one should you so desire, and they are sitting out in the open usually without a bag around them or something, so you could buy a single one should you so desire, but you always buy a bunch because they always come in bunches.  You don't, as a general rule, buy one banana, you buy five at a crack.  So they are of course going to be the best sellers, especially if they are counting one banana as one unit.  Because things like toilet paper and soda come in packages of six or eight or twelve or whatever, and I would be willing to bet all of Lady Rebecca's weekly stipend on the fact that they are counting packs of soda, or packages of toilet paper, not individual rolls or cans.  Score one for the banana I suppose.
     So I suppose that in a way of speaking the lowly banana is our favorite food, or at least our favorite retail item.  Even if it is not the thing we think the most about buying it IS the thing we buy the most.  Thank you United Fruit Company and all your economic imperialism for that.  And who knows?  It might fall from the top spot come next year.  I suppose that you will just have to make sure to buy lots and lots and lots of your favorite thing.  So have fun with that.  And lay off the bananas Company, will ya?  You have enough potassium in your system for Christ's sake.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paris Hilton's Hair

     The way the court system works these days, it was just a matter of time before something truly absurd, beyond hot coffee or fake photos of John Stamos.  This time it is Paris Hilton and her hair that are going to court.
      That is right, the social retard who really has no reason for being famous other than having a rich dad and always finding a way to be in front of a camera is getting in trouble - legal trouble - for the way she did her hair.  Well, not really the way she did her hair but WHO did her hair.  See, the French capital has a contract with a company called Hairtech International Inc to wear and promote their hair extensions.  Hair extensions, for those of you who don't know, are a lot like going to the gym, kind of useless in a way, because they are made for people who for some reason have short hair but want long hair and just can't stand to wait until it grows out like the bulk of the population does.  So anyway, she signs this deal with the Hairtech folks and they give her like $3500 worth of fake hair to hang from her head as she went about her business.  And all she had to do was do a little promotion, let them take her picture, etc and all would be good.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?  But it was not to be.
      First of all, she wore someone else's hair extensions one time.  That, Paris, is a no no when you have a signed contract.  I mean, you would be on someone in a minute if they signed a contract to squirt your perfume all over themselves but then they showed up somewhere wearing J-Lo.  So they took you to court for that, no big deal.  But it gets worse.
     They also took you to court because you missed a launch party for their hair extension line in 2007 and that they lost $6.6 million on the party.  That's a lot of free drinks and an awfully famous DJ, now isn't it?  But Paris, never one to miss a party, was too busy being in jail for driving twice on a suspended license while on probation for reckless driving.  Bold strategy Paris, how did that work out for you?  Oh, and the fake hair people are claiming that Paris' partying is contrary to their marketing campaign.  All of these rolled up together apparently make for a $35 million breach of contract suit in the eyes of the Hairtech International folks, which by the way, is 10 times what she was apparently paid under the contract.
     I am sure that you are going to be amazed by this, Company, but I am actually siding with Paris here.  I know that I usually toast the useless pop culture socialites who have never really done anything worthwhile ever even for a minute, and whose shallow existence sucks a little bit of everyones soul who has to see them go about their business, and who are too fucking retarded to realize that the laws even apply to them, but quite frankly, by the time 2007 rolled around, Paris' reputation was for the most part cemented, and you can't tell me that the folks at Hairtech didn't know what they were getting into.  You can't tell me that they didn't know she was a flake, you can't tell me that they didn't know that the $3.5 million that they paid her was probably a bad investment, because while you can run all the ads of Paris Hilton sporting your hair extensions that you want, and you can tell everyone she exclusively wears yours, it is not like you can highlight your corporate logo onto them for when she is appearing in Us Weekly or something.
     The other thing that you can't tell me is that you are out $35 million for all her shenanigans just because she wore someone else's hair extensions somewhere along the way in 2008.  Okay, I can understand getting your $3.5 million back for the what you paid her, and in the highly unlikely case that you actually really lost $6.6 million just on the launch party for your fucking shitty line of stupid hair extensions then ask for that back too, but by my calculations, which have been verified by banks and banks of interconnected NASA computers in Houston, is only $10.1 million.  So where then, does the other $24.9 million dollars come from?  Where did she screw you out of that amount?  What skeezy lawyer asked for that?  Or maybe are you just suing her as a way of getting a little more exposure from a contract that has been breached?  What is going on here?
     As for dear little Paris, I am not surprised to read this.  She has a long history of making bad decisions, and she always seems to put fashion and looking good and getting photographed ahead of, well, anything else, so I am not surprised that she would breach a hair extension contract just because she thought some other ones were better.  I mean, what is it to her, anyway?  She has people to take care of that for her, and I am sure it won't come to a jury trial or anything.  And in a couple of months everything will be back to normal: people won't be caring about Hairtech International anymore which is good because they shouldn't be, and people will still be caring about Paris Hilton even though they shouldn't be, and there still won't be any extra people wearing hair extensions.  A whole lot of to do about nothing if you ask me.  But at least it is keeping all those law clerks and court stenographers at work, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Hot Box

     Yesterday we were back at the gym, and one of the things that many people do at the gym is take a sauna.  You know, it's that tiny little room that is all made out of wood with a bench in it and that little goofy stove with the rocks that people sit in with their towels and just sit there and sweat their asses off.  Well, be careful.  That can be a dangerous thing.
    The sauna is the Finnish version of something that is done all around the world.  What it basically is is a steam bath that is used in conjunction with some other methods to cleanse the body and create healthful benefits.  The way they go about creating this steam bath is by heating a little room up to about eleventy billion degrees with a little stove or some hot rocks, then throwing water down upon them.  Makes sense.  Lots of people engage in this practice, and different cultures do it in different ways.  Some go out and jump in a lake or roll in the snow, some beat themselves with baby tree limbs, whatever.  Well, the Finns, who are masters of the sauna, have taken it to another level with their World Sauna Championships.  Except that it didn't work as planned.
     Since the Russians are equally adept at their version of the sauna - called the banya - it should be no surprise that the finals of the World Sauna Championship came down to Vladimir Ladyzhensky of Russia and Timo Kaukonen of Finland.  Timo went off in an ambulance with severe burns, and Vladimir went off in a pine box after succumbing to the intense heat.
     How intense of a heat you might be asking.  Well, the event requires contestants to withstand 110º for as long as they can.  110º?  Piece of cake you are probably saying.  But that is 110º C, which for our mathematically adepts followers is roughly 230ºF.  That is 18º hotter than the boiling point of water.  Judges began to notice something was wrong after six minutes and called in the medical professionals.  Now, before you begin to rag on this whole thing, there were plenty of first aid personnel at the competition, all rules were followed, and each contestant had to have a doctor's certificate of fitness before entering the competition.  So it is not like there was a blatant disregard for health.  Plus, 230ºF in a sauna is apparently no big deal in Finland, or at least not in the sauna competition world, because between stating that the organizers were grief-striken by Mr. Ladyzhensky's untimely death and declaring that the competition would never be held again, Chief Organizer Ossi Arvela made sure to tell everyone that he wasn't sure it was all that hot.
     But it doesn't matter.  It really doesn't.  I understand that these guys fully and completely understood into what they were getting, but the AIR TEMPERATURE is still hotter than boiling water in there, and there is no way the human body is made to withstand that.  Once you figure in the half liter of water that was thrown on the coals every 30 seconds, the heat index, a favorite of television weatherpersons everywhere for it's sexy ratings value, had to be through the roof.  At that temperature and humidity things like evaporation are essentially halted, and as you might remember from life sciences class, that is how the human body cools itself.  So the fact that one man died and another is clinging to life shouldn't really surprise anyone.  Just think about what breathing that hot, hot air would do to your lungs.  I know that at about 120 the phlegm in mine starts to loosen up, so I can't even imagine what is happening in there at 230.  Good Lord.  The wallpaper on my bedroom wall is starting to peel off just thinking about that. 
     The fact that nobody else has died or been hospitalized since the competition began in 1999 shocks me, and that none of the over 130 participants from 15 countries had any trouble is a miracle.  But they are smart to not have the competition anymore, because it is inherently dangerous, otherwise we would be dipping ourselves in boiling water all the time as a way of cleaning off and whatnot.  So it just makes good sense.  Too bad no one figured that out before this all happened.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Second Set at the Gym

    Sometimes you have to do something to stem the tide that is beginning to flow against you.  Coaches in sports do it sometimes by calling a time out.  Firefighters in the mountains and forests do it by lighting small fires to clear away whatever a big one might want to consume.  I do it by coming on here before it gets out of hand to tell everyone who is a gym rat to settle down.
    Take a chill pill man.  Or woman.  Have you never read the disclaimer?  Here is the deal, I wrote a post the other day about how I think people who go to the gym are, well, fucking morons.  Unsprisingly, there was some backlash, as there is from time to time.  But this was in a form that I am not totally used to.  First of all, there were two "no" votes on my little "check yes or no" system, which is super rare and a half in itself.  Usually no one gives a shit.  Secondly, I received some backlash personally, which is ever rarer, in which people came to the Worldwide Headquarters and expressed their displeasure with what I have to say.
     Listen, I know that I am not the most physically fit person in the history of the world, but you still aren't going to catch me in a gym paying money to do shit that I can do outside for essentially free even in the winter when it's cold because a long time ago someone invented the fucking hat..  And that's my opinion.  I understand that not everyone is going to think like me or have the same opinion as I will and that's okay.  I understand that maybe, just maybe, going to the gym is the only way that works for you to be healthy and exercise.  More power to ya.  Maybe you don't own a bike, maybe you are allergic to the sun, maybe you like to run for hours and hours and never have ever gotten anywhere.  Maybe you like to watch your muscle grow, or maybe it's safer to life weights in the gym because there is someone there to spot for you, but I don't care.  I still do and always will think that it is a waste of money. 
     So if you like the gym, and it works for you, then by all means keep on keeping on.  It doesn't mean that I am going to stop liking you or think anything less of you, I just think that you are wasting your precious money, that's all.  So settle down, relax, take a lap or two, and it will all be okay.  Enjoy your exercycle.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Cup of Common Sense

    I want to talk to you today, Company, about the going on in the Portland, Oregon, area.  Are any of you from Portland?  I hope so.  But I am going to work very hard to avoid the cheesy and lame but super obvious puns that pertain to this news event that I have seen every article covering it use.  That's because here at Big Dave and Company, we are super classy.  Classy like Ron Burgundy but kicked up a notch.  God help us.
     Children in the United States have been putting card tables at the end of their driveways and selling lemonade for years and years and years, like, since the first Levittown went in in the late 1940s.  It has become a time honored means of procuring cash for those who are too young to get a job flipping burgers and who are cut of the lucrative textile industry be child labor laws and the fact that they don't live in Malaysia.  It has almost become a rite of passage for some to hang out their lemonade selling shingle and dispense cups of syrupy and overly sweet yellow summer goodness for 50¢ per tiny Dixie cup - you know, the kind that people have in their bathrooms or that they deliver meds in at the hospital.
     So that's all that little 7-year-old Julie Murphy and her mother Maria Fife were trying to do, except that because this is America and they are filled with the entrepreneurial spirit they tried to kick it up a notch and they applied a really good idea to their Kool-Aide Lemonade selling business: they set up shop at a friendly local arts fair.  This, to me, makes boatloads of sense, okay?  Lots of people milling around the arts fair, with cash on hand, it's outdoors which makes people think refreshments, etc. etc.  I love this idea, and props to Ms. Fife for helping her daughter along with this, because there are not a lot of parents who would be willing to throw all the things in the car and truck down to some park somewhere and set up a tent and deal with all the people and all that jazz.  So kudos to her.  Should have been a great thing, right?
     Enter our nameless villains: two Multnomah County health inspectors.  But we will enter them one at a time.  The first one came along and asked to see the 7-year-old girl's restaurant license.  Take a minute to let that sink in.  They hit up an adolescent child selling lemonade to see their restaurant license.  She, of course, had none, so the inspector informed her that she needed to cease and desist immediately or else face a fine up to $500, which I am pretty sure is what more than she was going to make selling lemonade that day.
     Now, I am going to fall in line here with Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen, who we will learn more about in a little bit.  I understand what this health inspector, and the second one who showed up a little bit later at the scene, were doing.  They have a job - probably a pretty good job with the county - and that job is to enforce a code of ordinances and laws made up by the elected officials of Multnomah County and the State of Oregon.  That is what they are paid to do, so they were just doing their job.  And unfortunately sometimes the rule book just doesn't have and contradictions or gray areas.  Sometimes it is just black and white and you can quote right from it "...the sale of liquid refreshments such as lemonade, iced tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. to members of the public beyond immediate family and not located upon the privately owned property of the seller shall be subject to licensure from the Multnomah County Department of Health..." and then yes, technically she needs a license that will cost more than she is going to make and yes she will have to get everything  inspected for everything and made out of restaurant-grade stainless steel.  Yes that happens sometimes.  But more often than not the law is open for some degree of interpretation, and even if it is not there is always some degree of interpretation that is available when it comes to enforcement.
     The problem here, is that nobody has a sense of what is really right and wrong anymore, and all that the health inspectors knew was that they couldn't lose their jobs or be reprimanded for following the laws on the books.  So who can blame them?  I can, and will.  You have to couple the laws with common sense, people, and realize that maybe the 7-year-old doesn't need to have a restaurant license to sell lemonade because it's not that big of a deal.  You can give me all the lines about serving the public good by keeping the public healthy and whatnot, but I am not going to buy it because I don't believe that you really do either.  Hell, I have given lines like that in my work before tons of times in person or on the phone, but I don't put any stock in it when it comes out of my own mouth.  Besides, in this instance, the public didn't seem to be concerned that there were no hair nets being worn or proper sterilization of the utensils.
     The reason that I can infer that is because, as the second health inspector arrived on the scene to back up the first - I never knew health inspectors called for backup - there was a group of people surrounding them urging them to allow the sales to continue and supporting Julie.  For their part, choosing the path of least resistance and not fanning the flames farther and being good citizens, Julie and Maria packed up their things and they left.
     This is where the story gets interesting, because while the girl and her mother didn't fan any flames, they ignited nonetheless.  While nine times out of ten this would have gone down in the history books as lesson for the young girl about just how much the grown-up world sucks and that people with clipboards in their hand and official looking identification badges will normally ruin your fun.  But this happened to be the one out of ten where things went differently.  Not only did the people at the arts fair leap to the defence of the young girl and her lemonade agenda, so did many other people in the Portland area, the most prominent of which was Mr. Cogen.  He called up Ms. Fife in order to apologize for the hassle.  He went on to the The Oregonian that "A lemonade is a classic, iconic American kid thing to do.  I don't want to be in the business of shutting that down."
     I immediately like this guy, and I am seriously considering moving to the Portland area just so I can vote for him.  He has said - in regards to this situation - basically exactly what I would say.  He made sure not to skewer the health inspectors because, well, they were doing their job and enforcing the law.  He made sure to note that the kid should have been given a break but he never went out of his way to blast the law requiring a restaurant license.  And he stood up for American-as-apple-pie traditions as he should have.
    Here is the second place that this should have ended, and it is a happy ending place.  The people at the art fair, who supported Julie, sort of are vindicated in the whole thing because the County Chairman admitted that he overreacted a bit.  The girl gets to sell lemonade supposedly and at least got an apology out of the whole thing.  The county looks like it is using its common sense.  Now, if everyone else just would.
     The story doesn't end here at the happy Hollywood ending spot because there is going to be another art fair.  And one of the vendors is still unhappy and has told the Oregonian that they are planning a "lemonade revolt" which really, really boggles my mind.  That would be the most useless and harmful thing one could do.  You want to set this 7-year-old girl's cause back six years and make her think that the adult world is REALLY fucked up?  Go ahead and stage your lemonade revolt.  You want to make Mr. Cogen look like an ass for sticking up for a child and using his common sense?  Go ahead and stage your lemonade revolt.  You will be essentially tearing the scab off of a wound that is already rapidly healing and doesn't really need to be picked at.  Mr. Cogen says that he doesn't know what he will do if a large number of fair vendors attempt to sell lemonade without a license.  But I suspect that it will go down like this:
     The county officials will know about this in advance, and they roll in there with their pencils and forms and citation books and come down on everyone in there selling without the proper permits.  There will be backlash from and against both sides, because here is the deal.  Technically, the county is right here.  They were enforcing the law by shutting down Julie's operation, even if common sense said they shouldn't have.  And the officials, even Mr. Cogen, has the responsibility to enforce the codes, so if these other vendors don't think they will be shut down in a heartbeat ESPECIALLY when they mouthed off about it in the first place, they are sadly mistaken.  And if they think they will be able to challenge anything in court good luck, because the county, by shutting down Julie and her mom first, and shutting all you retards down second, will be able to claim uniform application of the ordinance and you will just waste everyone's time and money.  And there will be no lemonade, there will just be sour grapes.  And no one wants sour grape juice.
      So here is my advice to the yahoo who wants to set up this lemonade revolt: I have always admired the people of Oregon for their forward and sensible thinking.  Your leaders are showing the same spirit by offering an apology and somewhat straddling the fence on this one.  Everyone is sort of at a happy conclusion.  Just let it be.  Think like an Oregonian and let it stand.  Don't have your ill-conceived "lemonade revolt."  Don't make any bigger of a deal of it than has already been made.  Just keep selling your arts and crafts and we can all go back to peace.  Otherwise, there won't be enough sugar to sweeten this batch.  Damn it!  There is that cheesy pun that I was trying to avoid.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Magnetic Poetry

     There is was, right in front of me, covering almost the entire freezer section of Baby Doll's s refrigerator: a magnetic poetry set.  You know the kind, Company.  It's the kind with all the words on white squares that you can take and re-arrange to make little messages and whatnot.  I am so into it at this point.  The poem came together pretty quickly as it were: "What universe is old, when it could be young?"  That was the first line of something that was going to be epic in it's scope and simplicity and greatness and all in a pair of couplets that probably wouldn't even have had to rhyme.  It was going to be incandescent and opaque and harmonic and a whole bunch of other words that sound like they would pertain to poetry but don't really but people apply them to the arts because they want to seem hoity-toity and superior.  It was going to be all those types of things displayed on the one place that everyone longed to have their arts displayed when they were children: the refrigerator.
      One problem, though.  I couldn't find the "be."  If you notice the beginning of the poem, the "be" is a pretty important part of the whole deal.  I mean, it's the most important verb, right?  It's existence, it's to be, it's être if you are French or in a French overseas dependence, it is so important that I can't even begin to think about defining it for you.  How do you explain the verb that confers existence on something?  You can't unless your last name is Webster.  So if it is so important how the hell was my poem going to come together? How was it going to reach its epic epic-ness without the "be?"
      It wasn't going to.  So I left it.  You have to do that sometimes; you just have to set it aside if it isn't working out for me.  It's the same with everything sometimes: editing, cooking, riding a bicycle, and then oftentimes when you pick it up the next day it's a fresh perspective and you can make headway.  So after looking at, oh I don't know, every fucking magnetic thing on her fridge I just gave up.  And the same the next day.  And the next.  Day after day it was the same thing: and no "be" to be found anywhere.  I was even looking at some of the other people's work in case I could cannibalize it.
      So I gave up.  Sometimes in life you have to give up, Company.  That's just how it works.  So I was standing there reworking the most basic interior bit and pieces of my now less epic with every passing minute poem, and I was slightly sad.  And a little pissed.  So I am standing there, wondering what pieces I can use to fix up my shattered dreams and shattered poem (and yes, feeling a little over dramatic about the whole thing) when it appeared there before me.  It was a "be," nestled within a single line sort of thing that someone had whipped up.  Nothing worth saving, either, especially when a "be" is concerned.  So I stole it.  I blatantly and cold heartedly stole someone's "be"' in order to make my creation complete.  And it all fell into place after that.  In the words of Jacobin Mugatu, "It's glorious."  And it is, and it is still there so that I can see it every time I am there.  It's right at eye level, in the corner, if you ever get a chance to be near Baby Doll's refrigerator.  I would highly recommend it.  Be warned though, it might blow your mind.  The FDA and OSHA and CDC have actually come in and told me that I have to put a warning label on it because it could be hazardous to your health.  Sara "Cumberbun" Tants from the FCC, who normally regulates the Big Dave and Company Podcast wrote me a letter that said I couldn't put it out on the Internet, that's why I can't type it for you.  Suffice it to say however, that it is the best poem in the history of the written word, and it wouldn't be without the "be," which I wouldn't have found if I hadn't given up looking for it.  My success came through giving up.  How's that for a message?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Seeing Double

     Here is a sort of an anti-public service announcement from all of us here at Big Dave and Company.  If you are one of a pair of twins - and it has to be the kind who look identical, which I guess would be called identical twins - then go out and commit a crime.  Any crime you want to.  And you might get away with it if you are careful enough.  The reason I say this, Company, if because currently, as I type, authorities in upstate New York are having trouble figuring out which of two 31-year old Niagara Falls identical twins to charge with a shooting.
     Both Edward and Raymond Nickens are being held on suspicion of committing the crime as the Law & Order type folks attempt to get their stories straight.  The brothers wore matching clothes and goatees during their court appearance and for all intensive purposes look the same, with one major difference: they have different tattoos.  That is why prosecutors have received permission from the courts to photograph them both with their shirts both on and off in order to determine who matches witness descriptions.
     Now, I think this is hilarious, because even identical twins are usually able to be told apart in some way, shape, or form.  Now, it may be difficult for the average Joe who doesn't know them, but for family and friends it is usually no sweat.  That is because twins usually somehow begin to differentiate themselves as time goes on, especially after 31 years one would think.  Usually the Parent Trap days pass as kids and the individuals start to like different music, act a little differently, hang around with different friends, etc.  But then again, I wouldn't expect the powers that be to be able to hone in on all that stuff.  But for fuck's sake, they have different tattoos.
     DIFFERENT TATTOOS!  Tattoos are permanent, Company, so it's not like they switched them over in their holding cell.  And you can't tell me that they never saw the guys with their shirts off.  So what is the big deal then here?  And who were the witnesses?  I understand that you need court permission to take the photographs if you want to use them as evidence, but come on.  Is this that hard?  Is it so bad that you have to show up in the "weird news" section of the Internet?  I mean, what is going on here?  Can someone explain it to me?  Just figure it out.  Take DNA samples.  Get Horatio Caine on the case and figure out what is going on.  Or just throw them both in jail for being douchebags.
     In any event, if you are twin go to upstate New York - the least New York-y part of New York State - and you are part of a pair of twins, have at it.  By the time they figure out who you are you'll be in Pennsylvania or Ontario.  But that's a whole other issue.

Friday, August 06, 2010

At the Gym

     It is a pretty well documented fact that Lewis Black does not like what he calls health clubs.  I like to call it the gym.  He feels that they are stupid and useless.  That if you run, as if you were on a treadmill, that you should end up somewhere different.  That in a city like New York where there are more stairs than anywhere else in the world you are sort of an r-tard if you are going to the gym to use what he calls "special stairs."  And I have to say that I can't agree more.
     I have lots of friends and loved ones who go to the gym.  Those people are fucking idiots.  First of all, the gym is expensive.  Even the YMCA, which is the cheapest around anywhere really, is like $25 per month, which, added up, is like $300 per year if my NASA supercomputers are correct.  Do you know how much penny candy you can buy with $300?  A whole fucking lot.
      Aside from the gym being expensive, the main reason that I don't like it is because it's fucking stupid.  Not the idea of fitness.  Although I am not a big fan of running and sitting on the elliptical and stuff, I still think exercise is good for you.  I am actually happy to do it as long as there is a clock or score involved.  But I am not going to go to the gym because, well, you can do all those gym type things for free outside.
      We can go through them one by one if you'd like, Company.  Treadmill?  Yeah, well there are thousands of miles of paved roads that lead away from every friendly local gym, and many thousand of unpaid ones floating around as well.  I am not sure if anyone ever mentioned it to you but you can run on all of them for free.  And those fancy multi-thousand dollar treadmills that incline.  Well we call those hills and they are all over the place as well, unless of course you live on the Ukrainian prairies or the Argentine Pampa or something.  Weight?  There are plenty of people who would love to have you help them move, and last I checked most of their shit is pretty heavy.  And that is all those weights are is heavy shit for you to lift.  So you might as well just be useful while you are at it.  If you don't like people, then go pick up rocks or get a second job hauling around scrap metal.  Then you'd be making money instead of paying it out to watch yourself work out.  That is super retarded too by the way.  Oh, and that cycling class that you paid $50 extra for?  Well, you've probably figured that out on your own by now, except that no one will be yelling at you while you are riding your bike around.  Except for maybe those angry motorists.
      So what have we proved today, Company?  We have proved that there are many, many stupid people in this world who would rather pay money to work out than to just go outside and play.  All that shit that you do in the hot, sweaty gym you probably did outside on the playground when you were a kid.  Think about that.  All you really need to do is go outside and run around.  Not into the gym to fake run, fake cycle, and life fake heavy things.  It is so simple.  So easy.  I am surprised that you didn't think of it yourself.  But then again, you were in such a hurry to get to the health club.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Corn On and Off the Cob

    Don't ask me how, Company, but somehow today some sweet corn worked its way into our government office.  Uncooked sweet corn, mind you, and people were cooking it in the microwave.  I didn't have any of it because I was out and about, wandering the streets on my lunch break, but when I came back I noticed that there was a couple of bottles of that fake spray butter there and a shaker of black pepper.
    "What sick freak is eating black pepper on their corn on the cob?  That is gross and they need to seek professional help for that problem."  That is what I thought in my head as I sauntered by.  I always sort of saunter through the office with a posture that sort of reminds me in my mind's eye of the guy on the skateboard with the briefcase from the Nintendo game Paperboy.  Sorry, that was a little bit of a tangent there.  Anyway, I was cruising by the pepper shaker and thinking about how pepper on corn on the cob was gross and that the only things to eat on it are butter and salt when I realized that I am a dumbass.
      I will tell you why in a minute, I just want to ask you a question first.  Have you or your parents ever had extra sweet corn, then cut it off the cob into a container and froze it so you could have sweet corn goodness in the winter?  Or maybe your grandma always did that?  Well, it was the thought of this that made me feel like a complete asshole.
      I felt like a complete hypocrite asshole because, well, when I unfreeze that cut off sweet corn from grandma's freezer, I always put a big pat of butter AND PEPPER on it.  So if pepper is good on it then with butter, why is it gross when it is on the cob?  That is the most r-tarded thing that I have ever come up with out of my brain.  Well, maybe not the MOST but it has to be right up there.  Now I know that if you watch Alton Brown Good Eats like I do, you know that there are lots of important chemical and physical changes that occur withing food during different kinds of heating and cooling, but let's be honest folks, this is corn.  This is a vegetable that has to be mechanically broken down for the human body to process it, so I don't think a few sharp, pointy ice crystals are going to do a whole lot to break the stuff down or change anything.  So we can safely assume that the stuff in the freezer is essentially the same in size, shape, and taste as the stuff we put in all those months ago?  So why the pepper now but not back in the summer?  That makes no sense whatsoever.  So this is what I am saying: when you are out at the cookout later this week or maybe this weekend, put a couple of shakes of pepper on your corn.  I know I will.  No matter if it's on or off the cob.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Officer Butt Hansen Safety Tip Book

     Hello everybody, it's the Unpaid Interns here.  Recently, longtime reader and friend of the blog Brad from Gotta Keep em 'Bloggerated wrote in a suggestion, in comment form asking if there was any sort of archive of Officer Butt Hansen Safety Tips that he could access.  He went on to opine that the safety tips would make a good book.  Well, since Big Dave is a money-grubbing, swelled-head r-tard he thought this would be a good way to make a buck or two, he has set us out on a mission to find and catalogue all of the safety tips that have been brought to you by Officers Butt Hansen and occasionally Dik Manchorp over the last couple of years.  All is well, no?  In fact it's not because the idiots in charge around here neglected to ever save, catalogue, or remember in any way the many safety tips.  Apparently they just don't "care about your health and well being" as they claim to do.  So, that being said, we have no way to go back in time and look up the old safety tips, but Big Dave will be angry and probably scream at us if we don't get him some book material, so what we are asking is that if you have any innovative or creative Officer Butt Hansen Safety Tips to please send them in to bigdave@bigdaveandcompany.com so that we can compile them and just sort of tell him these are the old ones.  He is so oblivious that he will never know and then we won't have to get yelled at.  Thanks again!

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Boy Who Couldn't Be Helped

     So, I was at the annual conclave meeting of the Super Mega Awesome Fantastic Team of Justice, Inc. the other day and I had a run in.  What that really means is that I was out having a boys weekend with David Nathaniel and The Pharaoh and I had a run-in.  A run-in with an 11-ish-year-old kid.  And he got me thinking about what the fuck is wrong with me?
     So the kid and two of his friends are carrying three kayaks, which would not normally be a difficult thing to do except that they were pretty little and kayaks can sometimes be heavy.  So they had this setup kicking that the 11-year-old was in the middle trying to carry the back of one and the front of two kayaks at the same time. Friend one was at the front carrying one and friend two was at the back carrying one, if you can follow that logic.  Anyway they were laboring because in truth that is a difficult setup, and David Nathaniel and I noticed this as they worked their way down a small hill and across the campground to the beach.  Well, I should say that he noticed and told me.  So he looked at me and said "Should we?"  I responded that we should so we got up, hitched up our pants, and sauntered over.  One of us, I can't remember which, shouted "Would you guys like some help?  We will help you carry them down to the beach."  To which the little 11-year-old snotball replied "No."
     Bold strategy Cotton, let's see how that works out for them.  We sort of asked if he was sure and he repeatedly declined, so we did the grown up thing and beat the fuck out of him.  No, that's a lie.  I made that part up.  We just said okay and walked away and continued to watch them struggle.  We heard his little partners in crime asking him if he was nutso and sort of giving him the business, but he seemed to be set in his decision.  Which is okay.  And he must have had some sort of hushed, convincing argument for friends one and two because when they all decided to carry their own boats the rest of the way, and I offered them some advice they didn't want anything to do with it.
     Now maybe it was because I haven't shaved in like six days, or maybe it was because I was wearing no pants (again, just kidding), or maybe even it was that they were well trained and didn't want to talk to strangers, but I think it had to do more with something that we like to call pride.  Pride and gratitude.
     Because when I was sitting there watching the aftermath of this little meeting and I was attempting to think about how stupid they were to decline our generous offer, after I stopped being a little angry over being rebuffed, I couldn't really peg them as being stupid because I would have done the exact same thing had the shoe been on the other foot.  Or had the proverbial paddle been in the other hand if we want to continue with the kayaking theme.  There is just something about having to ask for help from a stranger, who is obviously seeing you fail miserably, that most people just don't want to do.  Ask any boy who might need directions but won't ask for them (you have to be old enough to have driven before GPS to understand that one).  I would have continued to struggle on in that situation, just as the kid did, even if a couple of harmless looking goons were offering.  And I would have done it out of pride.
     Partially.  I also would have done it because where I come from, and the way in which I was raised, I would have felt as if I had owed them something.  Little Jeffy and I have always had a saying between us that goes as follows: "It all comes out in the wash."  And it does, when you are good friends and you see one another all the damn time.  But not when receiving help from an anonymous stranger.  What am I going to do to repay my debt to them once they have helped me if I don't know them and never see them again.  Or worse, what if I DO end up seeing them again and then I feel like an ass.  I can't pay it forward because 1.) that just doesn't work for me and 2.) everyone I know feels the same way and wouldn't accept the help.  So I am damned if I am helped and damned if I am not.
     So I guess that in the end I sympathize with the kid, and I am not ever that irked that he rebuffed me anymore.  I understand his thinking.  Or at least I think I understand it.  Or at least I have rationalized the hell out of it.  So no harm, no foul.  He made it to the water so all is well.  He just looked like he could have used a little help.